Google the words “republican apologizes” and you’ll get (approximately) 3,480,000 results. Google the words “democrat apologizes” and you’ll get 1,920,000 results. The obvious conclusion is that Republicans spend a lot more time apologizing for things. The question is: Why? As conservatives, we are (I hope!) convinced that our ideas are sound, and that they represent the way forward for America if our country is to survive. Democrats are much more likely (although they’re not alone here) to be the party of “go-along-to-get-along”, situational ethics, and political pork-barreling and backscratching. So why are we apologizing so much?
Leaving aside the obvious cases of “foot in mouth disease” like Todd Akin, there are a number of high-profile cases recently where conservatives have back-pedaled after saying something which was not only not offensive, it was provably true.
Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remark, which Time Magazine referred to as a “gaffe” and which made the top spot in Yale’s “Quotes of the Year”.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. … These are people who pay no income tax. … and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
— Mitt Romney, remarks at private fundraiser, Boca Raton, Florida, May 17
There is nothing wrong with this. Everything in it is true. Everything in it is a defensible, even a “core” conservative position. Yet Mitt Romney backtracked, or was forced to backtrack by his handlers. Why? Backtracking didn’t make him any more attractive to the voters, certainly. Running away from something you said just makes you look even worse – your opponents paint you as a fool for saying it, and as a coward for running away from it. You are pilloried twice.
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s “fascism” remark about Obamacare.
“In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.” — John Mackey in NPR interview, Jan 16
By the following day (January 17) he was walking back the “fascism” comparison on CBS This Morning: “I think that was a bad choice of words on my part…” Why a bad choice of words? If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck – why not call it one? Call it what it is. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s remarks on Meet The Press, and his subsequent “hostage video.”
In answer to a question about whether the Bain ads were “character assassination,” Mr. Booker said: “From a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. We’re getting to a ridiculous point in America.” Mr. Booker, who has raised campaign funds from financial firms and worked with them on Newark projects, said the ads were “nauseating.”
Mr. Booker [then] received a call from an Obama campaign staffer whom he wouldn’t name asking him to clarify his remarks and underscore the campaign’s message on Bain, Mr. Booker said.
“I made the dumb decision to do the hostage video,” said Mr. Booker, using the nickname he calls it because he looks like he is doing it against his will.
(From the Wall Street Journal, Aug 13, 2012)
The “hostage video” is a classic, because it does look like exactly that: A video made by someone under duress. A lot of duress. Possibly with a gun pointed at them from behind the camera.
What kind of pressure are these people being subjected to? Have their “handlers” convinced them that they need to go out and do the media backstroke to improve their poll numbers? Or does a guy named “Big Mario” have their children locked in the trunk of a car?
If Republicans ever want to matter in this country again, we need to understand those pressures and find a way to resist them. And we need to stop apologizing for telling the truth.